O’Connor Resigns As Madison Square Garden President/CEO

David “Doc” O’Connor, president and CEO of Madison Square Garden Co., abruptly announced his immediate resignation Nov. 13 after 28 months at the helm of the New-York-based live entertainment and sports company.

Executive Chairman James Dolan will take on the role in the interim, according to a Madison Square Garden Co. statement provided to Pollstar.

No reason was provided for O’Connor’s resignation who had served as CEO since July 15, 2015

David O'Connor
Courtesty Madison Square Garden Co.
– David O’Connor

O’Connor previously spent more than 30 years at Creative Artists Agency —20 of which were in the capacity of Managing Partner. He was part of a group of five managing directors at CAA who led the company following Michael Ovitz’s 1995 departure for the Walt Disney Co.

O’Connor was MSG’s third CEO in less than eight years. He was preceded by Cablevision’s Hank Ratner who served for five years and Tad Smith who lasted a year.

Madison Square Garden Co. assets include Madison Square Garden, The Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre in New York City; the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.; the Chicago Theatre; and the Wang Theatre in Boston. MSG also owns and operates sports teams including the NBA’s Knicks, NHL Rangers, and WNBA Liberty and has strategic partnerships with in Tribeca Enterprises and Azoff MSG Entertainment which is a partner in the Oak View Group (Pollstar‘s parent company).

Among O’Connor’s first endeavors was to lead the spinoff of MSG from its predecessor company, MSG Networks. In February Madison Square Garden Co. acquired a 62.5 percent common equity interest in the TAO Group for $181 million. Its assets included 19 dining and nightlife venues in NYC, Las Vegas and Sydney, Australia including Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, The Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex and Vandal.

O’Connor’s other accomplishments include establishing residencies with entertainers such as Billy Joel and Jerry Seinfeld and investing in festival producer Boston Calling Events and e-sports organization Counter Logic Gaming.

In April, O’Connor brought in iHeartMedia’s Darren Pfeffer as EVP of MSG Live overseeing live entertainment events.

The company completed a $1 billion renovation of MSG in 2013 and is planning to bring a new entertainment-focused venue to Las Vegas. 

A story in the New York Post claimed O’Connor’s departure was due to a spat with Irving Azoff of Azoff MSG Entertainment who was allegedly upset with O’Connor’s lack of results in building a 17,500-seat music arena in Las Vegas. Azoff, in a statement to Pollstar, said he was never contacted to comment on the story and that it was “pure fiction, but what do you expect from the New York Post?”

MSG shares slipped 2 percent, to $225 following news of O’Connor’s departure.